Customer communication with printed magazines has been a highly volatile instrument for German car manufacturers for years. When a crisis is announced, budgets are cut or magazines are completely discontinued. Sometimes they are only offered online in digital form. However, market research repeatedly confirms that printed instruments are important for customer loyalty.
As the well-known industry information service LOUT is now reporting, BMW seems to be thinking about a new print magazine. See also https://lout.plus/Experten/BMW-Magazin-alleine-stemmen-oder-bleiben-lassen.html
The backgrounds remain blurry. In any case, there was no tender. BMW replied to our inquiry as follows: “As far as the article you mentioned, we would like to inform you that there are currently no efforts at BMW to reintroduce a print magazine. No specific orders have been placed with agencies, nor are there any final plans to bring such a BMW customer magazine onto the market. ”That sounds a bit like the famous sentence that nobody intends to build a wall ...
But just an “air number”?
BMW discontinued the magazine in 2018. Anyway, it remains exciting. The fact that the rumor mill reports that the BMW magazine was designed by an external crew, that only 40 percent of BMW topics should be placed in the magazine, the rest being offered to "other partners", casts doubt on the seriousness of this construct. Brand magazines in which several partners want to, may and can have a say, usually quickly disappear into oblivion. Three appearances, as the Swiss agency Affinity Prime, which is supposedly responsible for the advertising business, announced, is completely uninteresting for campaign advertising customers, and even four appearances are not the right platform for the advertising business because the reminder factor is no longer available even after three months. Since, according to Affinity, the new BMW magazine should have appeared in October but did not appear, doubts about its realization are more than appropriate for the time being. The editor-in-chief of Premiummedia Publishing, Berthold Dörrich, mentioned in the fog of rumors, comments briefly, succinctly, but evidently aptly on the BMW magazine fama: "Air number!".
From my experience in producing customer magazines for BMW, the Ford Premier-Automotive Group and Mercedes-Benz, I can only say: The customer magazine of a strong brand should definitely focus on the brand. A faded lifestyle magazine quickly slips into a themed tray of already existing magazines. If the new BMW magazine really only communicates 40 percent of the brand, and 60 percent is to present any topic, any content is programmed. There are already a lot of printing units that call themselves customer magazines, but are produced completely bypassing customer interests.
Customer communication must not be a mere advertisement
When I was responsible for BMW magazine, some wanted to generate themselves as a journalistic authority in the four-cylinder and see as many topics as possible except BMW products in the magazine. I did not follow these sandpit games of vain self-promoters and had a congenial partner in the then PR boss Richard Gaul who, like me, considered journalistic credibility to be more important than advertising messages disguised as journalism. All of our stories had a link to BMW without appearing as flat advertising. Nevertheless, our concept went far beyond the brand's edge, but always associated with the joy of driving.
Endless discussions and coordination and approval loops are then necessary with several partners, in which - to put it bluntly - the department secretary in the post office also claims a say. These conflicts then lead to irregularities in the production timeline. Constantly postponing change requests from different donors / departments makes an editorial deadline obsolete. Since Affinity Media's BMW magazine was already announced for October 2020, but has now been subtly postponed until next year, it gives an idea of how difficult the topic is. Many chefs also spoil the broth when it comes to corporate publishing.
In addition: In my conviction and experience, four appearances per year are indispensable as a minimum for advertising customers. And the recipients of such a magazine should also be encouraged to look forward to the next magazine by appearing four times. If it is published less frequently, the magazine is forgotten and the perception of an occasional advertising material arises, as I receive it from the BMW branch once or twice a year.
If BMW cannot or does not want to manage the magazine financially, it should be left alone. If it still works, then I've been wrong for the past 30 years. Also at the premium magazine for the Premier Automotive Group from Ford someone was my interlocutor who gave me every freedom: ex-BMW board member Wolfgang Reitzle and the local marketing director Christina Hammer. And at Mercedesmagazin, I was once again fortunate to have a partner with overall responsibility in Karlheinz Winkler, who knew how to ward off attacks on our content independence from the PR department and marketing. My motto from back then still applies today: You can only do a good customer magazine if someone lets you do it.